What Kind Of Content Is Popular On The Internet?

I love how Gawker Media is so transparent with their traffic stats. At the bottom of every Gawker site is a link to the sitemeter stats. I've spent some time over the past week looking closely at Gawker's site network and looking at the stats. It's an interesting story. Here's most of the Gawker network:

Gawker properties

In addition, Gawker also operates the Fleshbot porn network. So it's interesting to see how all these sites do and what are the ones with the largest audiences. The links below are not to the sites themselves but to the stats pages of the sites.

The Gizmodo blog (Gadgets) is by far and away the most popular site on the network with 90mm monthly visits and 6mm uniques.

Lifehacker (hacker lifestyle) is next with 5mm uniques but only 30mm monthly visits.

Kotaku (Gaming) has more visits than Lifehacker (45mm monthly visits) but about 3mm uniques.

The flagship Gawker (gossip) blog has 2.7mm monthly uniques and about 20mm monthly visits.

The rich verticals of autos (Jalopnik), women (Jezebel), and sports (Deadspin) all clock in at between 1mm and 2mm monthly uniques and 10mm to 20mm monthly visits.

Coming in at the back of the pack is Sci-Fi (io9) and porn (Fleshbot) with about 10mm monthly visits.

Of course, it's a bit crazy to use one blog network to make any conclusions about the overall popularity of various forms of content on the Internet. And some of these sites are more mature (like Gawker and Gizmodo) than others (io9).

But it is interesting to me that gadgets and geek lifestyle are bigger properties with more growth than things like autos, women, and sports. And it is also interesting that gaming is doing much better than gossip. And of course, it's worth noting that porn is coming in last.

If you look at the comScore/Media Metrix Global Top 100, what you see is that very little of this kind of content is in the top 100. It is dominated by utlities (search, social networking), games, ecommerce, and international properties. However, ESPN does have 35mm monthly uniques and iVillage does have 33mm uniques. Gawker Media itself comes in at #247 on the Media Metrix global list with about 15mm uniques.

So, in conclusion, I think it is safe to say that the Internet is not just for porn. It's mostly for social media, search, shopping, and other utilities. And when it comes to content, geeks and gamers are still a very important audience on the Internet. I wonder if it will always be that way.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. thisisananth

    Interesting observations Fred…I think in might be more because of familiarity and interest of geeks and gamers in it rather than anything else.. And I think the trend might change if more and more people discover what they can do on the internet.Geeks look and work on the computer most of the time so they will spend more time on it. Gamers can easily get obsessed with it so they forget the time they spend and are more engaged.. So I think these might be the biggest groups.

  2. Tony Bain

    Good analysis, although I am not entirely sure that geeks surfing for gizmos can be categorized any differently to regular folks surfing for porn…

    1. fredwilson


    2. Phanio

      Personal experience?

  3. Phanio

    Great insight. Glad to see that porn is not what is driving people to the web.In my opinion, the web was always been designed for geeks and I think they are essentially the heart and soul of it all. But, social media seems to really be making an impact – guess this is the side of the web for the rest of us.I like the web for information – don’t really care what kind of site it come from – I just what the information I need as quickly as I can. Don’t care who you are – your experiences in life have provided you with a certain knowledge that I might be able to use and the web allows you to put that information out there – quickly and easily – for people like me to access.Plus, the web is a great way to innovate – even if you are not the innovative type.Will it stay this way. No – everything changes – sometimes good sometimes not. I just hope that it continues upward and to the right. Sure there will be bumps in the road – but upward and to the right.

  4. Conor

    Interesting article, I had never noticed the stats were so readily available!I would be wary of generalising from these specific sites as some of them may be higher ranking in their fields than others. For instance Kotaku and Gizmodo have international appeal (as long as you can read English and accept that some games/tech available in the US might not be available in your market they’re fine) whereas Gawker is a lot more Americanised (articles about celebrities not that well known about the US and a focus on Manhattan). My female colleagues (working here in Ireland) spend a lot of time on Irish/UK gossip websites and whenever I’ve mentioned Gawker none of them have heard of it!

  5. Diego Sana

    hehe, like the founder of bloglines said on his interview for that Founders at Work book, “there’s a lot of nerds out there”.

  6. David Semeria

    Well, that explains a lot πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. Publishing your clickstream to the web when doing a post on a blog network with porn in it is not a great idea

  7. paulhart

    In my opinion there’s a strong correlation between the gawker sites that are successful and the types of traditional media they are evolving from.The print version of the gadget magazine is ripe to be replaced by an online equivalent as your publishing cycle online is near-instantaneous; gadgets are only “teh hotness” for a very short period of time. Being first to publish is a significant benfit.I have no idea how to pigeonhole Lifehacker πŸ™‚ Gaming falls into a similar space to gadgets.Gossip has a regional factor to consider, as has been mentioned elsewhere in the comments. Gawker can take advantage of the fact that the biggest gravity well for gossip is the US. Again, being first to publish is useful, though there may be some value for the likes of Us Magazine to have an online component and using the properties to drive traffic both ways.The verticals get a small advantage from being first to publish, but they are in areas where there is a strong social aspect to them too – people like to talk about their rides, their experiences, and their armchair quarterbacking.Fleshbot is an outlier from all this. The stats lead me to assume that most consumers of porn aren’t that interested in reading about porn, and would rather just, uh, consume it.

    1. paramendra

      “…..most consumers of porn aren’t that interested in reading about porn, and would rather just, uh, consume it….”Ha Ha!

  8. Vladimir Vukicevic

    I don’t think that this unscientific exploration is really robust enough to make broad conclusions or to especially make business decisions from.Porn is extremely competitive and highly fragmented on the Internet. I suspect that large, Walmart-style porn sites and networks haven’t been as successful as the niche-y smaller ventures – Playboy is an example.In addition, your analysis doesn’t take into account any measure of quality or value that each of the sites offers for their particular topic category – i.e. Gizmodo might be an awesome gadgets site while io9 and Fleshbot offer subpar content, relatively speaking. It would be like me making broad statements about the fast food industry only based on Taco Bell’s performance – there is a clear connection but not enough to comfortably talk about the whole industry.Ironically, I think that your final paragraph is correct but that you had made up your mind even before you had the “data” to confirm your feelings – the confirmation trap.

    1. Vladimir Vukicevic

      Was that too harsh?

      1. paramendra

        No. You made your point. There will be people who will disagree. With you. πŸ™‚

  9. Elie Seidman

    We are incredibly early in the development of the internet so it, still, skews to younger and geekier. My mom who is nearly 70 and is completely able to use a computer without any assistance whatsoever barely knows what the word blog is; she certainly does not read them. We are in the first inning. Important to always remember that and remember that the audience that reads TechCrunch – or this blog – is not in any way representative of the “real world”

  10. Mihai Badoiu

    Interesting little experiment Fred.Is it possible that as the internet develops, people become more and more geeky? Take the mobile phones, for example: as kids can now SMS, they will do more of that and maybe less physical interaction; this in the long term will make them less capable to deal with other people, but more technically oriented. If this is the case we are witnessing a geekization of our culture.However, the experiment is most likely not relevant enough. I’m pretty sure that if you use Google trends or Alexa you will get different results on who’s using the web most.

    1. ShanaC

      Siva Vaidhyanathan once wrote about that. Difficult though- the more I get attached to my computer and related equipment- the more I desire real people and the scheduling and flow that come with it.

    2. paramendra

      “….as kids can now SMS, they will do more of that and maybe less physical interaction; this in the long term will make them less capable to deal with other people….”I don’t buy into this. Use of social media will make people more social overall, also in person. In social media, you simmer. Then you meet in person and interact more fully.

  11. ShanaC

    As for the women properties- those are really competitive. I feel like I run into new ones every day.Women are very crossover-ish. I could just as easily go to somewhere which faces my interests more specifically- like Fashionista, Bellasugar, Feminista, TheMoment by NYTimes…Or even the mom blogs. Getting women to stay on an internet property is hard work because I find with me and my friends, we look around for specific things rather than a location that feeds all of those interests.(Actually, you see that happening with one of your mom blogs- the C Jane. She actually runs three. One about organic food, the main blog, and one where readers write in about trhe clothing and things they see on the main blog and find out where they can buy them- she realized her readers were varied and didn’t want aggregated content on the same blog.)As a result, I keep wondering if the fact that I read a large number of Fashion/beauty blogs with the same advertising content and that talk about a number of similar products makes me disposed because of impression count to buy a certain way. Or that I read only certain blogs about how to cook. Even if I almost never click through ads (sorry guys).It doesn’t help that for a lot of basic purchasing, women and not men in a good chunk of American households, do the shopping. How much do you think impression on a wide variety of related websites count?

  12. SplendidMarbles

    I think that the Internet is following the development cycle of television. Before cable TV, there were very few options; the major networks aired programs that were meant to reach national audiences, and therefore had to be safe and appealing to tens of millions of viewers. With the explosion in cable TV offerings, niches developed and prospered.The Internet used to be available to a smaller, tech-savvy segment of the population, now millions of children, and and a growing number of their grandparents, are online every day. The sites that become popular, and financially successful, are the ones that appeal to the desires of their audience (news and entertainment), or provide useful services to their customers (social networking, shopping and search/information).The beauty of the Internet lies in its low barriers to entry. Almost anyone can set up a content site and test it for audience response, and it is getting easier to start sites with commerce in mind. It is important, and actually quite easy, for Internet entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling; the resources required to find and meet audience demand are growing in number as their costs decline.It is important to note that technology empowers both site creators and their audiences, but it does not necessarily affect the attitudes and interests of the latter. This means that as the Internet and TV merge, the content and services offered will reflect the wishes of a much larger segment of the population. So, in order to project what sites will work, one must continually take society’s pulse, which is a task that is becoming easier, but will never diminish in relevance.

  13. RacerRick

    I love what Ned Denton has done with Gawker network. He doesn’t follow the crowd and doesn’t care what others think and do.That being said… geeks offer an excellent opportunity for marketers. Gary Vaynerchuk has made a fortune selling wine to geeks.

    1. paramendra

      It is not possible Denton does not follow the crowd. All smart marketers do. It is just that leaders know where to take that crowd. They design products that did not exist before. But there is always an element of following to the greatest of leadership.

  14. Christian Brucculeri

    1. Certain types of content are more fictionalized than others. For example, I read the NYT and WSJ, but not The Guardian or Fox News. In aggregate, I would be willing to bet that “news” is a category that’s much larger than “gaming”. I’m not sure ComScore is designed to reflect measuring content verticals.2. The Internet will not be primarily for utility for much longer. How long before our “TVs” are “Internet”? I realize that sounds over-simplified, but the lines that separate our content consumption are blurring at breakneck speed. Netflix is a great example of this blur.

    1. Christian Brucculeri

      “fictionalized” = “fractional”. REally looking forward to an “edit” function on FB Connect. πŸ™‚

    2. paramendra

      Smart TVs and dumb laptops will shake hands. πŸ™‚

      1. ShanaC

        I prefer to think they tango, if that is alright with you.

        1. paramendra

          Tango is a better metaphor than shaking hands. Thanks.How come you are not registered and signed in with Disqus?

          1. ShanaC

            Tech problems- It doesn’t want to recognize my existence when I claim.

  15. Joe Lazarus

    Interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of this has to do with the audiences willingness to share the content online, which fuels distribution and growth for the tech content categories. The readers of geek news and game blogs seem much more likely to pass that content along to friends and their network than some other content categories. The less-nerdy verticals like sports and women may eventually benefit more from viral distribution as their audience becomes more web-savvy. Let’s hope porn stays underground. I don’t want to know what naughty pictures people are looking at.

  16. GraemeHein

    Does this highlight what types of content are popular, or what types of content are most amenable to a general site? Another issue with the thesis is that it focuses on certain demographics that have more unified interests – “women” fragment with every year post college – the jezebel audience going to career sites, mom sites, home sites, apartment therapy…, gadget freaks tend to be interested in a large swatch of tech vs niche sports where the MTB freaks aren’t the kayak geeks aren’t Le Tour nerds…Spam and google results belie your conclusion about flesh toned videos and photos. We’ve completely moved away from a lowest common denominator “what are you weird” environment to incredible diversity. Suicide Girls and the 1000 knockoffs, none of whom would ever make it to PB but where the customers likely would have accepted what was available. I’ve been led to believe that people will make do with the Victoria’s Secret catalogue if they have to…

    1. ShanaC

      I think that we need to worry about that quite a lot more than we think.It is also surprising that Fred’s post is being ignored- as well as the idea of fractionalization on the internet.Maybe the internet is for people with varied interests who can’t find enough people like them- and have to go find small little groups otherwise in order to find a large fun group to be with.

      1. paramendra

        The web makes niches possible in ways old media simply could not.

        1. ShanaC

          Just because something is possible- doesn’t mean we have to let it be that way for everyone or everyone all the time or everyone under certain circumstances.I remember when both Google and Yahoo made it difficult to search for something known as Food Porn- which before there were lots of foodie nerds floating the net, was predominately on the blogs of the pro-anorexia blogs. They were trying to break down the rings of pro-anorexia blogs in the West, which where topping out of search alogirthms at one point because of the way they were cross linked to each other.And thank goodness for that. Anorexia kills people.Some niches should be there, But I am still not sure every other one should be…

          1. paramendra

            Some of what you say went over my head. I am not sure I fully grasp your point. But I am for fighting anorexia. For the record. I guess we could take the argument to hate speech. Hate speech is free speech and should not be banned, but it should be socially outcast.

          2. ShanaC

            Hyper-Niching makes it hard to outcast anyone- you just go and find yourself a group that will accept you in the end.For example: You accept this outcome on the internet:The Jooglebomb (it still works to this day.VersusThis and this for pro-anorexia people.Sometimes I wish JS Mill was around- I do think he would say something brilliant on the matter.I don’t think this issue is easy as all. Nor do I think it will ever be fully resolvable, because every time we ask for protection, we trade some of our liberties.

  17. Jonah Peretti

    Nick’s Achilles heel is his resentment of media and business elites. He loses sight of his audience because of his personal desire to prove that liberal elites are stupid blowhards that don’t deserve their success.Most online readers do not share Nick’s class and cultural resentments. Keep in mind that Gawker.com is actually 3 sites rolled together (Gawker/Defamer/ValleyWag) making each of them among the worst performing in his network. Gawker Media is known for snark and take downs but the sites that take the approach actually don’t perform!Meanwhile his positive sites do amazingly well. Gizmodo and Kakatu are for fan boys! Lifehacker actually shows you how to do useful stuff! The sites that do well don’t mock, snark, or attack. And they are also the sites where Nick is less personally involved and less likely to let his petty resentments undermine his traffic.So Fred, I think your post is actually more about the strange psychology of Nick Denton than the type of content web users like. πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve been fascinated by nick since he started gawker so I am sure your last point is right

      1. Jonah

        A while back I told Nick everything I posted here. I pointed out that his sites focused on hating and cultural resentment and snark did perform and that being more positive would be good for his business. And he responded by saying “you can’t change who you are.”

  18. paramendra

    It will not always be that way. When 60 or 90% of humanity is online, geeks will end up a minority, although they might log in more page hits than the rest of us mere mortals. And that is fine by me. πŸ™‚

  19. US Road Trip Planner

    I think the internet is for travel. It is also the largest revenue generating vertical on the web. The reason it does not get “respect” – is because the traffic numbers are low (probably 10-20 sites in the top 1000!).And, it is a natural application of the web in almost every direction – social, bookings, maps, photos. video and just replacing out of date travel guides.

    1. fredwilson

      For sure. A ton of valuable niche properties

  20. sprague

    To answer your question about whether geeks and gamers will always be important, it would be interesting to compare this data with other countries. For example, China, which has the most number of Internet users: I wonder what sites are popular there?

  21. 86400

    I’ve been maybe twice on Gizmodo and put it in my favourites… don’t know why but I always forget to get there, even if it interests me ;-(

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